Tag Archive | uk art

Reflections on 2016, so far

It’s been a bit of a weird year, and states of mind have conspired to bring the very worst in me quite a few times. But I feel I’ve been as on the ball with the production of new art to say the least. Most work has gone towards two exhibitions ‘Under Digital Rain‘ (curated by John Wright) and ‘Fighting For Crumbs  (Art in the Shadow of Neoliberal Britain)‘. I feel these exhibitions are the outcome of focuses  (in and out of all parts of life) that have taken up my past 5/6 years. I’ve been saying this for most exhibitions for a couple of years. But with these 2 shows I feel I’ve actually started to get it together properly – with the help of fellow artists and philosophical companions. Although I am working on a project with John Wright, and Dave Jarvis, called The Retro Bar at The End of The Universe, right now I’ve been transmitting far too much, and now to start to doing some receiving, listening to what people have to say in the our post-Brexit UK.


January

This Land – https://johnledger.me/2016/01/17/this-land/


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NoteToSelf (2016)

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Tired of Life (“I Want To Leave Myself”)

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Untitled

 

 

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Hunger Games Darwinism (900x1280)

Hunger Games Darwinism

Bound up in Binary

Bound up in Binary

I am Becoming Nothing (Closure no3)

I am Becoming Nothing

Streamed Out

Streamed Out

The Capacity to Care (1370x2000)

The Capacity To Care

Rot_in_Silence_2016

Rot_in_Silence_2016 (a work I made in response to being asked to contribute an original print to a crowdfunder for the film Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle

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The Worldwide Oneupmanship

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Under Digital Rain

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The Worldwide Oneupmanship

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The Worldwide Oneupmanship

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Under Digital Rain


England’s Nervous Breakdown https://johnledger.me/2016/06/29/englands-nervous-breakdown/


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YOUR Freedom

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YOUR Freedom

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A Grief That’s Been Gagged and Buried

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Fighting For Crumbs – ‘Broken Slates’ installation

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Fighting For Crumbs

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Fighting For Crumbs

YOUR Freedom (2016)

YOUR Freedom (95X125cm, mixed media on paper, 2016)

‘YOUR Freedom’ is my latest work, and will feature in the Wakefield Redshed part of the group show Fighting For Crumbs (Art in The Shadow of Neoliberal Britain).

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Fighting For Crumbs (Art in the Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) is a group of artists from Yorkshire working amidst the after-effects of Austerity Britain 2.0.

The project was inspired by the film ‘Invisible Britain’ (based on the work of Sleaford Mods) that looks at overlooked UK towns and cities, and motivated by a request to contribute to the 50th anniversary celebrations of ‘The RedShed’ (Wakefield Labour Club). The event is based in Sheffield and Wakefield and explores the position of art, and artists, in a period when we are all being pressured to ‘strive’ for crumbs – a time when wages are low, and the market dictates creativity

Gage Gallery, Ball Street, Sheffield, S3 8DB

Monday 8 August: Opening night. 6:30 – 9pm
Friday 12 August. Music and poetry night. 6:30 – 9 pm
11-4pm

The Redshed, 18 Vicarage St S, Wakefield WF1 1QX

Saturday 13 August. 1Pm onwards. Film-viewing, and talk by JD Taylor
Normal gallery opening times: 8 August – 13 August, 7-11pm (call 01924215626 to check room is not in use).

Support Our Crowdfunder Campaign!

the imposition of conformity

‘The Imposition of Conformity’ by Sheffield-based artist John Wilkinson

So this year has begun with me working with a group of artists on an exciting project which, at least in my life, promises to be something quite special.

Fighting For Crumbs (Art in Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) will be taking place at the Wakefield Redshed, and the Sheffield-based Gage gallery between 8-14 August 2016. A event centering around a film and an exhibition, it will also include talks and performances at both venues.

We need all the support you have to make this project be as special as it promises to be!

Please find the Crowdfunder located below.

https://www.indiegogo.com/project/fighting-for-crumbs-fundraiser/embedded

Here’s a little about what Fighting For Crumbs is all about…

In November of 2015, the group the Sleaford Mods starred in an independent film examining the lives and homes of the majority that were being systemically ignored in this brutally austere but paradoxically aspirational age of David Cameron. Invisible Britain’ was screened nationally, yet it seemed to focus much of its energy on towns once at the centre of the Yorkshire mining heartlands.

2016 marks the 50th birthday of The Redshed, also known as The Labour club. Situated in the heart of the Yorkshire city of Wakefield, the place is somewhat unique, and has defiantly resisted the capitalist forces that have penetrated nearly everything else around it. A year-long line-up of events are now marking this anniversary.

Sandra Hutchinson, a lifelong supporter of the club, spoke of how The Redshed began at the height of the social and political changes happening in the 1960’s. In-spite of the seismic troubles around the world, it was an age of political optimism, and there was a strong belief that things could be and would be changed.

“THERE IS A PREVAILING SENSE OF PARALYSIS AND DEFEAT ALL ACROSS EX-INDUSTRIAL BRITAIN. AND THIS PARTICULARLY EFFECTS THE YOUNG WHO HAVE NOT KNOWN ANYTHING ELSE” JD TAYLOR

The Invisible Britain documentary addresses this political climate; an age of deep political pessimism. A sense of defeat clings to the streets of our congealed conurbations. A depressed, and broken spirit hangs over us, instructing us to abandon the world we live in and find happiness in loneliness.

The huge support that propelled Jeremy Corbyn from relative obscurity to leader of the Labour Party, seemed to be more a WILLING for a return of a political optimism. Wanting it, because it’s not here.

Five MORE Years... (2015)

Fighting for Crumbs (Art in the Shadow of Neoliberal Britain) is the stories of artists who are striving for nothing but raw artistic expression at a time when we’re all being forced to strive for ‘crumbs, where wages are low, and the market dictates creativity.

It’s not so much stories of poverty-stricken artists. It’s about artists working within the crumbling remains of the Britain’s post-settlement optimism.

Under the “keep calm and carry on” mantra of Tory rule, more and more artists are feeling pressured to head into more craft-based activities.

Although this is not a critique of the crafts itself, how can an art SAY when it’s trying so hard to SELL?

What value does the truth of artistic expression have in such times? Have we been reduced to fighting for crumbs?

BROKEN BRITAIN IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT. IT’S ABSOLUTELY SMASHED TO PIECES” INVISIBLE BRITAIN, 2O15

 

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fighting-for-crumbs-fundraiser/x/13528122#/

Hunger Games Darwinism

Hunger Games Darwinism (2016, mixed media on paper)

Hunger Games Darwinism (900x1280)

Two Upcoming Exhibitions

From mid-September to early October the main body of the last 4 years of my artwork will be stretched between two exhibitions of a quite different nature.

11800002_1627123337560392_755793731947607952_nThe first exhibition begins at 6:30pm on Friday 18 September, at Gage Gallery in Sheffield. I will be exhibiting in this large space alongside John Wilkinson, a painter whose work is more than certainly both as narrative-heavy as my own, and as critically engaged with the current state of play. I look forward to seeing how our two styles work together, whether this adds any further depth/dimension to way our works are viewed when exhibited as solo artist shows.

The exhibition will run to October 1st, 11-4PM

Gage Gallery, Ball Street, S3 8DB

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On Tuesday 28 September I will be part of a show consisting of a group of 5 artists all from/ or with strong links to the town of Barnsley. The exhibition will be called Strange Bedfellows, due to the contrasting styles and approaches in making of those involved. What joins us together is our connection to Barnsley, and a desire to see a celebration of a selection of its visual artists.

I will be exhibiting alongside Rory Garforth, Terry Brookes, Rob Nunns, Elizabeth Sinkova

Additionally, we will be holding a evening opening event on Friday 2 October. Where prints/artists’ merchandise will be donated to a fundraiser in support of local foodbanks. This is followed by a connected Vinyl Underground music event across the road at The No7 pub.

@Contemporary Gallery, 2-4 The Arcade, Barnsley

Free Entry

Tues 28 Sept – Weds 7 Oct

10:00 – 16:00

Better quality images of ‘Progress…’ (2013/14)

Better quality images of ‘Progress…’, a large scale drawing I finished earlier in the year

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Progress…

I’d prefer not to have to state that this title is meant to have an irony to it, but I probably need to, as part of the reason I chose it is because if it was used for a similarly-composed landscape drawing made 50-70 years ago I believe the title could have been used without irony – and legitimately-so. Today, however, capitalist growth no longer has energies, which were usually oppositional, incorporated in it or pulled alongside it, that could fuse capitalism’s energies with progress, making for a better civilisation.

The opposite could be said to be true, since we moved firmly into this era of global financial capitalism, legitimised by neoliberal (market fundamentalist) theory. A relentless eroding-away of the social contract that was built up over the last two centuries in the first industrial states to protect individuals from the extremes of capitalism’s boom/bust cycles and market dynamics. Alongside this is an almost universal disintegration of a picture of a future worth inhabiting (something that wasn’t the case in capitalist societies 50-70 years ago), as the violence of profit-thirsty growth brings human life into conflict with itself, the environment, and internally, through the invisible mental illness epidemic.

The upwards-driven spiral in this drawing is two things at once. First of all it is an imaginary chronology of capitalism on planet earth, violently veering off a path made-steady by social and civic idealist demands and onto a hyper (‘feral’) capitalist path, severing its ties from reality, whilst dragging us all along with it. As, even though this is clearly a critique of what capitalism produces (and reduces things to), looking back at where this ‘break’ from what before occurred (at a series of points during the 1970′s and early 1980′s), I really do think that, despite the horrors its ‘invisible hand’ induced during the previous centuries, if we had transcended it at this stage, humanity could have taken stock of the then zenith of material plenty under capitalism, and said “we wouldn’t have what we have now without it, but now it is time to go beyond capitalism” (pretty much along the lines of what Karl Marx meant, that capitalism was the best thing and the worst thing to happen to humanity).

But at this very moment when I firmly believe profit-motivated dynamics were no longer needed, (at least here in the west) a progressive program should have been introduced to help us beyond capitalism (and according to Doreen Massey, what is forgotten by history is that there was plenty of ideas about how to do this). However, a trick was played on social evolution. And in hindsight we can see that although individuals were demanding more autonomy and individual freedom, we (to use a Will Self analogy) had “accepted a Trojan horse” gift; the ruling class had staged an ambush. This isn’t conspiracy theory: it’s about one class (the ruling class) working collectively to regain the ability to organise society in the way they thought it needed to organising. What we thus received was an even more ruthless, sociopathic capitalism, with diminishing social alternatives standing in its way, globally.

The second thing this upwards spiral shows is the social and environmental gradient, that gets harsher and more brutal towards the bottom, where so much is reduced to waste, both in economical and ecological meanings of the word. The protestant work-ethic has an increasingly religious grip over us (a violent dislike of the unemployed has emerged); it isn’t a coincidence that this is happening the same time as so many human beings are becoming surplus to needs of capitalism, no longer needed to exploit their labour, and are falling from all security nets towards an existence of utter destitution and state-sanctioned repression. As economist Guy Standing pointed out in his talk at the Leeds Tetley gallery, the UK Tory MP, Iain Duncan Smith (a figurehead for this extreme enforcement of the religion of work, work, work) has in speeches more or less repeated the same words that, written in German, were above the gates of one of western civilisation’s most extreme outcomes: “arbeit Macht Frei” (“work makes you free”), which was above the entrance to the Auschwitz death camp. But, without forgetting that the vulnerable/voiceless always get smashed first in such a system (the poor, the minorities, plant and animals life), let us not forget, that with total collapse of civilisation, which the dynamics currently driving will sometime no doubt lead to, no one is spared; all in this drawing are vulnerable, eventually, within this upwards spiral.

Up is also down in this drawing. The system, as much as it accelerates – faster and faster , also just accelerates entropy. It only reproduces itself as it drags everything crashing down to a primordial ‘dustland’. Capitalism works fine, whilst putting everything else into crisis, until there is nothing left to put into crisis. Indeed, the only buildings/objects visible in the ‘dustland’ within this drawing are icons from a time when civilisation could be said to be progressing – when our past believed in a future; space shuttles from a time when our frontier was space and not the inverted privatisation of our biology; symbols of times when an alternative world seemed on the horizon; towers and buildings for cities for citizens rather than cities for finance and elites.

The use of red pen colour always seems appropriate when depicting a landscape that shows a civilisation/a humanity/a planet running out of time. Perhaps it makes me think of the ‘red planet’ – Mars; earth’s next door neighbour in the Solar System. Mars is certainly a red barren ‘dustland’ and is also what the originator of the Gaia hypothesis, James Lovelock, argues could be the fate of planet earth if we make it so that earth’s co-operating eco-systems are no longer able to enable that thing we we call ‘the living planet’.

In fact, keeping in tune with the talk of Space and the planets here, you could interpret progress… as capitalism (and the generations of humans at its mercy) embodied as a space shuttle; elevating itself on the planet’s stored-up energies; veering off track and dragging  life (displaced and dismembered) with it, needing it as it bleeds it, like ripping a plant from the soil and then leaving it on the surface to starve of nutrients as ‘surplus to requirements’. And then add to this the powerful instrumental music piece evoking time speeding up, and then crashing, from Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of The Moon, which will forever be the music that reminds me of the conception of this drawing, and you’ll maybe know, more or less where I’m coming from.